Fable - Ask Rebellion Bloodline

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Zana

Second Level
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Unlike Talus, it was clear some of the conditioning still hung to Zana. The way her face was a blank mask, her eyes held that calculating and clinical look and she only softened when she looked at Talus or he brushed against her. When Riley suddenly made the jump that they two had met before there was only the barest flicker of a frown before the memory presented itself to her. A young girl, barely more than 13 and all legs and arms trying to ride. Her rebukes and gentle guidance on how best to work a horse in order to get from it what you wanted. Even then, despite her conditioning, Sloan had ensured that Zana was never one of those more violent of Dreadlords.

She waited quietly until Talus had finished his own explanation before offering her own.

"I've taught many, that would seem plausible," Zana paused, pursing her lips and glancing down to Talus. Her hand ran through his hair slowly before taking a breath and offering the explanation in the blunt manner of a soldier giving a report. "I lost a part of my soul and it undid the conditioning a little bit. Enough to make me question things... like the way the Academy runs. Then I met Talus and... well he convinced me those things wouldn't change without someone making a stand."
 

Riley

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Reaching forward, she took a cookie and took an experimental nibble.

"Gods," she breathed. The taste itself disarming her guard a little. It was so good. She had to force herself to eat it slowly and not wolf it down. And that was hard.

Fingers were definitely licked.

Living in the woods didn't lend itself to the necessity of tons of manners.

She nearly choked on the crumbs at what Zana said. Half-empty tea mug was set down on a small side table. For shite's sake, her brother had a house and furniture. Things like an end table.

Fuk.

"I didn't know that was a possible thing." The soul-thing. Then again, her brother had just done that weird ghosty thing earlier. Frown deepened. "Take a stand? How?" She huffed, clearly having a hard time buying it.
 

Talus

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He frowned for a brief moment, casting Zana a quick look as he wrapped his fingers around hers and took in a breath.

"I'm not going to tell you all of it." Talus said bluntly.

She was his sister, but that didn't mean she had to know all the details, hell, it meant she had to know less. If they captured her, took her, tortured her...well, Talus' lips thinned and he shook his head slightly as he banished the thought.

"There are things at work in the city." He told her. "Things that will make Vel Anir...better."

Another glance for his love. "I don't think...either of us are ready to tell each other everything."

He frowned and looked at Zana.

"Perhaps..." His gaze panned back to Riley. "We should spend some time getting to know one another."
 

Zana

Second Level
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Zana only gave the younger girl a wary smile but offered no further explanation. What had happened between her and Kol was a thing of the past and it had led her to Talus so she couldn't complain. Every time he glanced to her she sent a reassuring wave down the bond and stroked her thumb over the back of his hand in an attempt to help centre him in all the confusion. She couldn't say she really blamed him. Finding out you had a sister who was also a runaway was a lot to take in. Riley was in a lot of trouble.

"That sounds like a good idea,"
this time her smile was a little more natural and it made her icy beauty warm and radiant. "Are you both hungry? I can cook us some dinner," her eyes flickered between the two and she wondered, briefly, if Riley had just as large an appetite as Talus did.

She was definitely going to need a bigger kitchen.
 

Riley

Runaway Apprentice
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Hazels narrowed on her brother. He was still a full-fledged dreadlord. In a way she was irked by his vagueness. On the other hand, she completely understood it. She wasn't about to go mouthing off about Arwyl and his group.

Far too dangerous if any of them got caught.

She knew there were dreadlords that could attack minds. Rip truth free and leave the person barely functioning, if at all, after. She knew that's how some of the 're-education went.'

She scooched back in her chair and pulled her knees up to her chest, arms circling tightly around them. It was hard to break free from the nightmare of her thoughts. Perhaps there was one thing she could ask her brother.

"I could eat," hopeful gaze flickered to Zana.

Riley could always eat.

She stuffed another cookie in her mouth. Hazels tracked back to Talus. "Do you know Sierra?"
 

Talus

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"That's a good idea." Talus said as he squeezed Zana's hand.

He still wasn't entirely sure how to go about all of this, how to...well do anything at all. Riley was his sister, but what did that mean? He would have to hide her obviously, find a place for her that the Dreadlords couldn't follow.

Karak was still an option, the best one. Thror would protect any sibling of his with his life if Talus asked. Lips thinned for a moment, head shaking until Riley suddenly said Sierra's name.

His head cocked.

"Sierra?" He echoed the name, and then nodded. "Yes. She's my friend."

That was really the only way that Talus could think of her. "She and I..."

A frown touched his lips.

"She's the only one that's left from my class." Luther was long dead, Alloi...the others, he didn't even know where Hal was now. There hadn't been reports about him in months. Sierra was the only one left, and one of the few people he trusted still who wasn't in the Guard.
 

Zana

Second Level
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"Spaghetti bolognese coming right up," Zana said softly, pressed a kiss to Talus' head then slid off the arm of the chair. Gods there were two of them. She wondered, briefly, what on earth she was going to do when she had his children if they took after him. A slight grimace crossed her face but her back was already to them as she walked towards the kitchen. They had already torn down the wall that had once stood between the living area and kitchen meaning it now had an open plan design so she could still listen to their conversation as she cooked.

Her interest piqued when she heard the name Sierra.

Zana had never met the Dreadlord before but she knew that Sierra had had a child. Once Talus had begun discussing children with her she had been curious about other Dreadlords who had had a child within the system. Most gave the babe up at birth but Sierra hadn't even though she was a single mother. Zana had a blossoming respect for her which was only growing as the two talked.

"Was it Sierra that got you out?" she asked as she began putting on the pasta to boil.
 

Riley

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Riley frowned, circling her drawn up legs a little tighter. This house? The two of them acting so comfortably around each other? It all made her feel small. And she hated feeling that way.

Out of her element.

It had been far easier fighting. Far easier when she'd thought her brother long dead.

Gaze drifted to Zana in the kitchen. The hell. How did her brother meet someone like this? She could ask herself the same question about...Kaius. Though, she'd never have the luxury to settle down like them. Kaius would never leave Arwyl. And Riley would never ask him to.

Riley hesitated before answering Zana.

They hadn't dragged her in. It seemed they risked a lot to bring her here. Show her openly about their forbidden relationship. No one else would've let it stand. Two dreadlords united as a family were a threat to Vel Anir and the structure of the houses. Kaius had asked her once why they all didn't just band together and overthrow the houses. It was a complicated question and she knew a large part of that answer was because the system made it so they were splintered and didn't trust each other from the beginning.

Only a few like herself, Talus, Zana, Sierra...were able to break out of the brainwashing.

So, she believed she could...trust them. At least with Sierra. Gods help them all if she couldn't and made a mistake.

"Yes. She did. I think that's why she picked the Academy." It had been almost been as jarring a choice as Talus choosing the guard. "Do you know her too?"
 

Talus

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He blinked.

Sierra was part of the Underground? He supposed that it made sense, and as he thought about it a dozen different things fell Into place in his head. A frown pulled across his lips, and he slowly shook his head as he realized what a fool he'd been. It was so obvious, he couldn't quite believe that he hadn't seen it before.

Talus took in a breath, glancing at Zana. He had wanted to tell Sierra about all of this before, he and Zana had even spoken about it, but now he was more sure than ever that it would be the right thing to do. "Do you need help with anything?"

He asked Zana quietly, not wanting her to do everything. Talus waited for an answer then turned back to Riley.

"Are you cold? Do you want a blanket?" He'd noticed the way Riley had pulled into herself, and it was the only thing he could think to ask.
 

Zana

Second Level
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"I'm okay," Zana glanced up to him, smiled, and then looked back down at what she was doing. Talus was getting a little better at dicing things and odd jobs around the kitchen but it would be quicker for her to do the whole thing than keep an eye on him. Even if the food was making her a little queasy. Gods she really hoped she hadn't picked up a bug from somewhere.

"I don't know Sierra personally," she answered Riley's question as Talus went to get the thick blanket Zana had crocheted which now lay across the back of the sofa. "Just rumours. It's my job to know different Dreadlords," and how they could impact the future. Her gaze flickered to Talus as she brought the sauce to boil. "It's both our jobs I guess now, figuring out who might ... also want to change things with us. It is a fine line, Riley," Zana frowned and her pale green eyes moved back to the young girl. "You were really taking a risk doing that back in the city. It could have been worse than me catching you."
 

Riley

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She looked to her brother. Such a simple question but one that held a lot of weight. She imagined she was cared for by her mother at one point. But she couldn't really remember it. And her parents giving her so easily away to the Anirian government erased anything good that may have existed before that. It was strange to be offered something as simple as a blanket.

And since she's survived the time in the cold-box from disobeying orders to kill...cold had always affected her differently. She'd almost frozen to death being left out in that box in the courtyard for weeks in the dead of winter. The proctors had been surprised she'd survived at all.

Perhaps that's why she hadn't been executed right then and there. They'd always rewarded strength.

Lips parted.

They were taught not to show or admit to weakness. It was hard for her to respond to Talus' simple question.

"You have a blanket?"

It was the best she could respond with, unsure of how to.

Hazels traveled back to Zana. "You don't think I know that? My face is plastered on wanted posters across the city. They've been hunting me since I left. Sierra would be pissed if she knew I'd...stayed. But," she took a breath and frowned. "I couldn't leave. Felt like giving up. Even if our goddamned country if messed up worse than a twisted orc's arm. Things don't just change by folk running away." A shrug and a light huff.
 
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Talus

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"We have many blankets." Talus said as he carried the woven covering over to Riley. He did not drape it over her, but instead gently offered it with outstretched hands.

Talus wanted to take care of her, she was his blood, his sister, but he also did not yet want to overstep any boundaries. It was clear that the work of the Proctors was still instilled within her, and Talus knew well what that meant.

"They don't." He agreed quietly. It was a discussion he and Zana had had before. "But..."

For a second the Dreadlord grimaced, not wanting to boss Riley around already. "Maybe we can show you some better ways."

He glanced towards Zana.

Talus desperately wanted to do the right thing, to support his sister, but the problem was he just didn't quite know how to do that.
 
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Zana

Second Level
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A chill filled the air again at Riley's tone as Zana fixed her with that cold green-eyed stare. You could almost taste the magic in the air as her temper flared. Talus diffused it with his own answer and her eyes dropped back to what she was doing with the sauce. Silently she added some more herbs and then the mince, stirring it slowly.

"Perhaps even show you how to use your powers better," her gaze rose for a second. "It is clear you didn't finish your training and it could get you killed," it wasn't a false statement but it was perhaps said with a bit more iron than necessarily needed. Still, Riley would thank her when she could tear a man apart limb from limb rather than just move some bread about.
 
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Riley

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The tension in Riley's shoulders eased just slightly as her brother held out the blanket. Very slowly, her stiff and clenched arms unwound from around her drawn up legs. She shifted, fingers enclosing around the fabric. Wary eyes softened for a moment.

It was the only thanks she knew how to offer.

She drew the blanket around her shoulders and clutched it tightly as if it would be suddenly snatched away.

"Better ways," she breathed and frowned. "You two still go on missions for them. For Vel Anir? Still slaughter those that don't agree with the houses...the king? Kill those who look different?"

They were questions she voiced and couldn't help the slightly accusatory undertones directed at them both.

A questioning look, wanting to believe her brother was doing something different. Hazels bore into his own. Eyes that were near a reflection to her dad's. Perhaps her own gaze would drag up some distant memory of their mother for him. Gaze shifted to Zana in the kitchen.

"It's clear you're pretty damn good. I've never seen anyone else able to absorb my blast...like that." The same one that had, unfortunately, sent her brother reeling backward. Riley managed to hold her tongue for what else she wanted to say. It was hard not to bark out a bitter laugh.

Get her killed?

Riley knew she was living on borrowed time. Just going into any Vel Anir city could get her killed. That's what happened to runaways. As long as she got to die on her own goddamned terms, she didn't give a weasel's ass. But if Zana could help her get better? Better able to protect the others? Live a bit longer to fight back a bit longer? That might be worth it.

"I might be interested in learning more," she admitted slowly. "But I can't stay here for long. I'll have to let...some others know I'm okay. Eventually."

She put her tea down.

Riley had never imagined there would be others like her. Others that could move things with a silent nudge. Her specialty was more so in her shielding ability. Like Kaius. How strange of all folk, an elf, to have a similar power as her own. And now Zana.
 

Talus

Dreadlord
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"We work for the Guard." Zana was of course a part of House Luana, but most of the work she did nowadays was for the Anirian Guard rather than the House.

He wasn't proud of all the missions he'd done for the Guard, but most of them he would gladly lay out for his sister without much a problem. Lips thinned for a moment as she spoke of going somewhere else, but he decided not to address that just yet.

"Most of what we do is Protecting the people of Vel Anir, Training the Guardsmen." A few other things he would not yet mention. "We have a bit more...freedom than most other Dreadlords."

Talus in particular. "We walk a fine line."

He would not lie to her.

"These others..." Talus frowned. "I presume they're not in Vel Anir?"
 

Zana

Second Level
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Zana ground her teeth quietly as Talus jumped in to explain the work they were doing before she could open her mouth. It was a constant war in her and a reoccurring argument with Talus; she didn't want to have it with him and his sister. She just couldn't ... deal with the idea Luana was all bad.

She couldn't.

They had raised her from the age of six, moulded her, created who she was. Ashur spoke so passionately about changing the way things had been done. When he had learnt about the methods they used for the visions he had tried to change things...

They weren't all bad.

Silently she counted back from 10 and focused on the food in front of her instead. At least the anger was keeping the nausea at bay for now. She was so lost in her thoughts she almost missed Riley saying she wanted to learn some more techniques. Zana glanced up and then brought the pasta to strain it.

"The cabin is far enough out of the city your visits here would be easy compared to what you have been doing. We can practise ... once a week," her eyes flickered to Talus. "Love, please set the table. Dinner is almost ready."
 
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Riley

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"They're not. Not exactly," she said vaguely to Talus. The less he knew the better. If he got caught. Questioned. If she did. She'd made her choice with who she was fighting for and she didn't intend to back away from it.

She had to clamp her lips and bite her tongue when Talus talked about protecting the people of Vel Anir. Did they even deserve to be protected? Sure, some of them did. But the vast majority were just as guilty as the proctors at the Academy. As the rest of the dreadlords. As they all were.

Riley gulped.

Wishing she could forget some of the things they'd made her do.

She wrapped the blanket more tightly around her shoulders. Fingers digging into the fabric to keep them from shaking. She was grateful when Zana made the suggestion.

A silent nod to the woman.

"I think I can agree to that," she said quietly. It would still be dangerous. If anyone was watching the cabin. How many others came here? What if they happened to be here when Riley stopped by?

"Does...how many others know about this place? About...the two of you?"
 

Talus

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Talus shook his head. "A handful."

Landon, one of the Generals, Sloan now he supposed. Not many knew about them at all, at least not here in Vel Anir. It was a precaution that they had taken, and one that would continue for some time yet.

He frowned a brief moment.

"This place is safe." Talus told Riley. "The Guard gave it to me as my home."

That and the land around it. He had several acres of forest to himself. That had been intentional by the Guard, a place to give him roots, something for just himself. Dreadlord rarely received such gifts, even those within the Houses. Most of the time families kept them close, the need for their skills obvious.

"There are hundreds of Runes within the forest. Alarms. If anyone comes near I will know about it." Something he had set up for Zana, though would help with Riley too.

"You're safe here." Talus told her firmly.
 

Zana

Second Level
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It was like watching a tennis match. Neither wanting to give away anything in case it endangered others and yet both wanting to share and get to know one another. Zana felt a twinge of sadness for them both. Quietly she plated up the food whilst the table set itself with just a touch of her magic. She barely even glanced up to acknowledge it.

"You are, safe here," Zana echoed Talus words in probably the softest tone she had used since meeting the younger girl. She even managed a tender, sweet smile. A little bit of the woman who was hidden underneath the icy cold façade of a Dreadlord. "There are ... parts to my magic that are more a curse than a gift and here I feel comfortable enough to bind them entirely. Become human. I wouldn't do it anywhere else," hopefully that would demonstrate just how safe the place was to her.

"Anyway, both of you wash your hands dinner is ready," she held the plates up, one in either hand, to demonstrate her point then carried them to the table.
 

Riley

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She took a breath, hazels flickering between the two. Flecks of gold, autumns, and deep greens reflected within her eyes. It was strange to see more of Zana's mask drop, melt away. The change between her cold façade and her vulnerable, small smile she offered now. Riley was very familiar with that façade from everyone at the Academy. It was either kill or be killed. Don't show a weakness. Strength was only rewarded.

While Zana had that cool front and exterior, Riley's was a prickly cactus and fuse ready to go off.

"I think one day I'll believe you two. About the safe part." It would take time with Riley. She wanted to believe them. Trust was built though. And she imagined if she came a few more times...it would grow.

Slowly uncurling, she stood, keeping the blanket wrapped around her shoulders. She hadn't used a faucet with running water in gods knew how long. In the kitchen, she turned on the knob, for a moment staring and taking in the strangeness of it all.

Brows scrunched across her olive skin.

A glance over her blanketed shoulder as she finished up.

"Bind your magic?" She'd never heard of such a thing and wondered what it meant.
 

Talus

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Talus followed behind Riley, moving but not too fast so she wouldn't think anything of it. While she washed her hands he stood and watched Zana hungrily for a few moments, his stomach already growling.

The day had been a long one, and he felt like he could eat an entire mule at this point. "I know it's not easy."

He told his sister softly.

"They didn't exactly teach us to trust." It was a difficulty that he and Zana were dealing with more and more now. As they tried to recruit other Dreadlords and bring them into their plan it was near impossible to know whom they could actually go to. Sometimes it worried him, though he knew those they'd told already were okay.

He just didn't know if others would've in the future.

"But I do hope that you'll feel safe here." Talus had only recently finished the expansion on the house, and the new room was meant to be a hobby area, but tonight at least he intended to make it up for Riley. A space she could call her own.

If only for a few nights.
 

Zana

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Zana gave Talus the same look she sometimes had to give Grey; wait. Carefully she set the three plates of food down on the table. Two of them were noticeably larger than the other one - heaps of pasta, bolognese and cheese in the perfect mountain. Next she brought out a large garlic bread which she sat in the middle of the table along with a jug of freshly pressed lemonade and three glasses.

She snorted a laugh at Talus' understatement on the idea of there being a lack of trust amongst Dreadlords.

Once they were all sat down Zana answered Riley's question.

"They're manacles created during the wars with the elves. They block a person from accessing their gifts, all of them," she twirled a bit of pasta around her fork and put it in her mouth. She waited a little bit to make sure it actually stayed down before taking another bite. "My... gifts keep me up at night, I don't sleep well. Unless I'm wearing these. So this cabin is pretty damn secure if I am willing to not only wear them but sleep with them on," her lips twitched slightly into a smile.

"But how about less serious talk, tell us a bit more about... you Riley."
 

Riley

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She winced slightly at the words.

War with the elves.

It was one thing she wanted to fix, make better. Change. Vel Anir touted about the war with the elves as if they were protecting their own. But Riley knew the truth. For most cases. It was a slaughter. While Zana and Talus seemed progressive, she wondered if they fell short when it came to elves. Did they still only see them as Vel Anir taught them to? As less. Nothing but monsters.

She shifted in her seat, a frown along her lips.

And while she had questions about what Zana meant - what kept her up at night? Did she do more than telekinesis? It sounded like it. It had to be something back in the square. She'd known...somehow. Who Riley had been.

She stuffed a bight of food in her mouth and had to clamp back the moan of pleasure as it hit her tongue. She'd been living off wild greens and game for so long. This was quite the luxury. No wonder her brother had fallen in love so easily.

A snerk at the thought.

She looked up to Zana and Talus, swallowing.

"Well, what do you want to know?"
 

Talus

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Talus, much to Zana's surprise, was eating slowly.

Though usually he shoveled food in his face like a starving man, this time he was going slower. It was not because the food was not delicious, just the opposite in fact. The meal was a comfort that he had not known he needed in this situation.

It was because he was thinking.

Zana would be able to feel it through the bond, just how much he was concentrating. It was exactly like he was studying a field of battle, devising a strategy. His focus was on trying to...well connect with his little sister.

All of this was foreign to him, and he didn't want to screw it up. "Is there...things you like to do?"

He asked.

"Zana likes to read." Talus gave as an example. "I do woodworking."

The young Dreadlordmotioned to the table. "I made this."
 

Zana

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Zana tore a bit of garlic bread off and dipped it into her sauce.

"I also like to cook," she added cheerfully. More and more of the shield she wore like a second skin melting away now she was in a situation she was comfortable with. Every now and then though her eyes flickered to Talus with a hint of worry. Her hand brushed against his hand or arm or leg every now and then in a comforting, loving fashion. It was like the pair had been an item for far longer than they actually had been.

"What else do normal people share," Zana mused almost half to herself. She was thinking over the conversations the Guards had had on their 'girls nights' that she was still struggling to understand. "Oh!" her eyes lit up as she remembered one safe topic; holidays. "We like to travel, don't we love?" her eyes moved from Riley to Talus. "We recently visited a dwarven city - oh we will have to take you one day they treat Talus like family," she beamed with pride. "And we visited the Fire Giant city too - that's where Talus proposed," this time she held out her hand to show Riley the emerald ring that glittered on her finger.